This is the second book in Kelly’s series pertaining
to the persecution and life of Sudanese Muslims. It also sheds a light on the
struggles Christians face under Islamic law. This book is based on real-life
Americans Mia and Michael are learning to share their
faith with those around them. Their family is in Sudan with the Kellar Hope
Foundation, an organization which provides food, clothing, better health care,
and education for refugees in Sudan.
Rania is the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab who
longs to know what happened to her sister Halimah. Rania’s father is working on
an arranged marriage, as per custom. Before Halimah disappeared, she told Rania
to read the book she’d left behind, which happened to be the Gospel of John.
Rania’s eyes are opened to a whole new world, and she prays for peace … even if
it means leaving Islam.
Both Mia and Rania will need to trust God in ways they
never imagined. What plans does He have in store for their lives?
Kelley’s personal experience is evident in her latest
book, which contains a life-changing message for the characters and reader. The
cultural aspects are portrayed in a realistic and respectful manner. The book
educates the reader on the Sudanese culture, which is likely unknown to many. A
recap from book one is included, but a greater appreciation for the story will
be gained by reading the books in order. The reader may walk away from this tome
with a greater appreciation for things which are commonly taken for granted,
such as daily freedoms, religion, and life choices. The ending paves the way for
a possible, and hopeful, sequel.
I received a complimentary copy as part of the LitFuse blogger program. I wasn’t
required to leave a positive review.
Author of the captivating novel Side by Side, Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated, and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After thirteen years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys moved to Southeast Asia, where they currently live.
I want to extend a warm welcome to Dana Provo. Dana is hosting a giveaway, and you can win an electronic copy of her book, Bleeding Hearts. Enter using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Her giveaway ends Feb. 28, 2017. Dana will contact you if you're chosen as the winner.) Now, here's Dana...
Path to publication for Bleeding Hearts
Writing a book takes time, skill, and dedication. I didn’t just wake up
one morning and decide to write. For me, it all started in middle school when I
was brave enough to start a story about a race around the world. That story
didn’t get finished, and I lost everything I had for it over time, but the idea
of writing as a career stayed in my mind and my heart. That secret dream of
mine was never shared. I didn’t tell my parents, sisters, or my best friends.
It was for me, no one else. Until I wrote Bleeding Hearts.
Bleeding Hearts started back in April or May of 2015, when I realized I
wanted to write a story with several timelines. I took about two months
thinking about what I wanted and how I was going to write it then created a
chapter outline. The first draft took me two months to write.
I knew I wanted to publish Bleeding Hearts in November, 2015, so I asked my good
friend, Alyssa, to beta read and edit for me. Before I sent it to her I had
already edited it four or five times myself. Alyssa and I worked on my book for an additional
two months; she would edit one chapter and send it to me, then I'd edit and
send it back for more critiques.
Now, while I was editing the story, I started working on my synopsis and short
blurb while also researching agents and publishers. I created my social media
platforms, joined a local writing group, and attended a writer's conference to
gain more knowledge.
As January came along, I started crafting three different query letters
and created a spreadsheet for all the agents and publishers I wanted to query
and which letter I would send them based on their requirements. There were
several Twitter pitch parties I participated in, as well. I submitted close to fifty agents and publishers. Half of those responses were straight out rejections.
Some rejections were from my favorite agencies.
At the end of January, I received a full manuscript request from another
publisher and, boy, was I excited! I waited many weeks to hear back from them.
During that time, I sent out more queries and another full request to Clean
Reads (my publisher).
I waited. And waited. And waited some more.
Finally, Stephanie with Clean Reads emailed me the middle of February
with a publishing contract. As excited as I was, I wanted to hear back from the
first publisher before I accepted my first contract, so I asked some questions
and waited a week before I made my decision. The first publisher got back to me
with another rejection right at the same time I was planning on accepting the
After the contract was signed, there was so much to do. Editing,
building my social media platform, editing some more, filling out paperwork,
more social media, and last, but not least, editing. It took six very full months
to publish Bleeding Hearts from the day I signed the contract to release day.
But that doesn’t include every month writing, editing, and querying the book. I
don't think I would change anything I did to get where I am today.
For aspiring authors, the most important thing that helped me through
this process was good friends and lack of procrastination. I knew what I wanted
and I went for it. Don't hesitate to ask for help from other writers you may
know, and don't stop until you've reached your goal of publishing a book. There
will be times when you think the world is against you, but it's not. People
are busy and since no one knows your name, you are always going to be put on
the 'maybe pile' until someone reads your story and takes a chance on you. It
takes time, but don't let time slip away.
Lucks accepted a date with a charming, gallant stranger she didn’t know it
would be the beginning of her worst nightmare. She becomes an obsession for
Carson, her first love. Not only is he vying for her heart, but also her life.
Now Cami must work with the police to stop the illusive murderer before he finds
Provo has always loved books and reads everything from young adult fantasy to
adult historical romances. When she’s not reading or writing her next novel,
Dana can be found riding her horses and getting ready for competition. Dana
lives with her husband and two house plants in Richmond, Virginia.
Here are a few tips for self-editing your work. Your future editor will thank you!
It's difficult to find your own mistakes, as you know what you wrote so you tend to read what it is supposed to say (whether that's what's actually on the page or not). However, there are a few ways you can self-edit and improve your writing.
1. Set your writing aside for a short time: This makes it easier to find mistakes when you go back to the project, as the words will not be as fresh in your mind. It will be like proofreading someone else's writing.
2. Read it out loud: While our brains often see what they want to see, reading it out loud makes it a bit more difficult to overlook the mistakes.This is helpful for writers of all skill levels.
3. Try reading the work in a different format: If you've been reading on the computer, try printing it out, changing the font or size, or sending it to the Kindle app. This will allow you to see it in a different way, making it easier to notice mistakes.
3. Read backwards: This is similar to reading out loud, as it breaks up the flow of the narrative. Start with the final paragraph and read back to the first. This way, you can focus on the small details. It makes it more difficult for your brain to correct things along the way.
Life is full of detours. They can’t be avoided. Evans
has experience with them, and, in this book, he reminds the reader that detours
are always linked to God’s plans and blessings. Throughout the book, Evans uses
examples from the life of Joseph to demonstrate this point.
This book is insightful, and it provides reminders
that detours occur to strengthen us. Evans states that detours are ways to
shape people to help them fulfill their destiny, which he defines as, “the customized
life calling for which God has equipped and ordained us, in order to bring Him
the greatest glory and the maximum expansion of His Kingdom.” Evans includes
ways to help the reader determine if the detour is God-ordained or the result
of poor choices.
I know I don’t enjoy the detours in life, but knowing
that God is still in control makes them more bearable. It helps to know that
even when things feel bad, God is still using them for His good.
Some of my favorite lines:
·“When you hang on to the weight of
yesterday, it will hinder the progress to tomorrow.”
·“The greater the calling, the deeper the
·“Success is not what you have; success is
who you have.”
I received a complimentary copy as part of the B&H/Lifeway blogger program.
I wasn’t required to provide a positive review.
Thanks for having me on your blog, Leslie! I am so excited
about the Arcadia Valley project, created by six authors who adore romance,
faith, and FOOD! The novella collection, Romance
Grows in Arcadia Valley, introduces each author’s series set in Arcadia
Valley, Idaho. From lavender farms to
Mexican restaurants to whole-food bakeries, there’s something for everyone.
We’re releasing a full-length novel each month, starting with Mary Jane
Hathaway’s Summer’s Promise, which came
out on Valentine’s Day. So if you love the town of Arcadia Valley, you’ll get
the chance to visit frequently for the next year-and-a-half!
Co-creating a series like this is a lot of work—it’s a good
thing we all like each other! Here’s a screenshot of just one of our scheduling
Six authors come together to create this sweet novella
collection, which focuses on friends and family. Each one is set in the same
town (Arcadia Valley) and kicks off a trilogy for the author. Overall, this
book has a cozy feel to it, and each story contains well-rounded characters.
God is a key underlying focus in each story.
Blessing (Seasons of Faith) by Mary Jane Hathaway: Charlotte’s
new neighbors are a handsome widower (Nico) and his adorable daughter (Elena),
as well as a rabbit named Bunnicula. Charlotte is a librarian who’s always
dreamed of a garden and showing her mother that she can make it on her own.
Will she be able to accomplish that in Arcadia Valley? Hathaway educates the
reader on subsistence farming and highlights God’s faithfulness.
& Wishes (A Baxter Family Bakery Romance) by Elizabeth
Maddrey: Ruth inherited a B&B from her best friend, who died recently.
That, as well as falling for a farmer (Corbin) wasn’t in Ruth’s plans, but she
is determined to succeed. She wants a second chance at life and love, and she’s
hoping to find both in Arcadia Valley. However, someone is looking to prevent
that from happening. Will Ruth be able to figure out who doesn’t want her
there? The reader may be reminded of the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi and
Hearts (Romance from the Heart) by Lee Tobin McClain:
Alex is planning a birthday party for his abulea.
However, he did not anticipate a storm putting a damper on things. Patricia is
a jilted bride who shows up at his door. He realizes he is in over his head and
could use her help. How will she respond when she learns the truth about who he
really is? Themes of finding one’s identity in God and remembering whose we are
in Love (A Garden Grown Romance) by Valerie Comer: Joanna
is a real estate consultant who must work with Grady, the grandson of the man
who left some property to the church, to find a solution and use for the
property that everyone can agree on. The
task is proving to be a bit more challenging than she anticipated. Themes of
sowing God’s love run throughout this story.
Scent of Romance (Legacy of the Heart) by Danica Favorite: Caroline’s
parents want her grandmother sent to a nursing home and the farm sold, but she
is determined to prevent that from happening. High-powered lawyer Hayden is
called in to finalize the details. Is it possible for Caroline to convince
Hayden to help her save the farm? Family bonds is a strong component in this
Romance Rekindled (A Homegrown Love Story) by Annalisa
Daughety: Kate left home years ago following a traumatic event. The only reason
she is returning home is because her father is dying. She arrives to find Drew,
her former fiancé, renovating the house and the family farmer’s market office
to prepare for sale. Is it possible for them to move beyond their past and look
to the future? Themes of new beginnings and second chances abound in this
story, which also has a focus on subsistence farming.
Disclaimer: I received a
complimentary copy, but I was not required to write a positive review.
This Bible is wonderful for the small children in your
life. It has a cover featuring the adorable Precious Moments characters.
Inside, there are forty-eight pages of colored Precious Moments artwork,
accompanied by prayers. The prayers are focused on the following themes:
thanks, praise, school, meals, friends, family, bedtime, and faith.
In general, this is your standard NKJV Bible, but each
book does begin with a short introduction which includes the author, timeline,
theme, and key verse. The font size is 9.5. The Bible itself is a size which is a bit
smaller than some, making it easy to be used by people of all ages. I was a bit
surprised that there aren’t more illustrations throughout (outside of the
prayers), as this is geared toward children ages 3-12. However, this is a
beautiful Bible overall.
Some other features include sections on the following:
About the Bible, How to Start Reading the Bible, Getting to Know God, Ministry
of Jesus, Miracles of Jesus, and colored maps.
I received this Bible as part of the BookLook Bloggers program. I wasn’t
required to leave a positive review.
Popkin’s latest provides an in-depth look at some of
the famous “Control Girls” of the Bible. With statements such as, “I worry that everything is
spinning out of control,” and “I just want to be sure of a happy ending,”
Popkin’s latest is likely to be identifiable for many women. While it is not
uncommon to do everything possible to get a desired outcome, more often than
not, this pursuit leads to increased anxiety. The outcome? Instead of feeling
in control, it generally results in anger or fear.
This book contains an in-depth look at seven women in
the Bible. Each struggled with control in
some way. The women included are:
Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and Miriam. In addition to sharing
these biblical stories, Popkin shares her own, as she is a self-proclaimed
The book contains Bible studies, as well as questions
for personal reflection and meditation. The tips and ideas are practical.
Numerous Scripture passages are included, which makes it easy to apply the
lessons to daily life.
Some of my favorite quotes include:
“Thoughts are powerful.
What we believe shapes the direction we take in life. To change direction, we
must change our thought patterns.”
“As we try to control
things we can’t control, we tend to lose control of the one thing we can —
“We don’t always get to
see God’s purposes. He asks us to trust him and to have faith.”
“If it’s hidden, it’s out
of our control.”
“Fear is often what keeps
us from relinquishing control.”
Disclaimer: I received a
complimentary copy as part of the LitFuse blogger program. I wasn’t required to
provide a positive review.
I want to extend a warm welcome to Janell Butler Wojtowicz. She's giving away an electronic copy of her book, Embracing Hope. Enter using the Rafflecopter box at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends Feb. 16, 2017.) Now, here's Janell...
“The wisdom that
comes from above is … willing to yield.” – James 3:17, ISV
Obeying the yield sign
you’ve heard of P.R.A.Y., a simple yet effective way to do just that: pray.
It’s the acronym for Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield. I use it on occasion as a way
to organize my thoughts.
found that P.R.A. is easy. I can always think of things: praising God’s
creation, repenting of jealousies, asking for guidance with a problem. But I often
get stuck on the Y. What does yield mean anyway? According to the dictionary, it
means “to give up under pressure, surrender, concede.” I interpret “give up” as
putting it behind me, moving on—like wadding up a 97,000-word manuscript and throwing
it away. I didn’t consider the aspects of surrender or concede—until the quest
to publish my novel.
took me nine years to publish Embracing Hope. I faced all the obstacles every
author has gone through, which wasn’t unexpected. In fact, I felt a part of the
huge “unpubbed” family. Life also interrupted my quest: jobs and job loss, moving,
health issues, loved ones’ deaths, the upheaval of the publishing industry. I
wavered between determination and disinterest in my quest.
surrender and concede emerged, thanks to a divinely-timed devotional. “Okay, Lord,
I surrender my book. I’m not giving up or putting it behind me. I’m just
conceding that I can’t do this on my own so I’m stepping aside.” Surprisingly,
it wasn’t that hard to back off. It was a relief. I didn’t put the manuscript
through the shredder. Instead, I tinkered with it and toyed with the sequels
for enjoyment—there was no pressure. I didn’t belabor or bemoan what some people
would call stagnation.
year ago, I felt a nudge precipitated by the sudden and unexpected death of my
long-time friend and literary mentor. I wanted to try again because he never gave
up on me. It was as if he whispered in my ear from heaven, “It’s time, Janell.”
I pitched to three small traditional publishers I found on a database he had told
me about. One turned me down flat. That’s okay. The second offered me a contract!
I signed, praising God for finally answering a dormant prayer, and I withdrew my
pitch from the third. But the second publisher went out of business before I
even got started. What reason did God have for directing me there in the first
place, I puzzled?
month later, the pieces to the puzzle fell into place. Through a LinkedIn query
about re-pitching to the third publisher, I found Discern Products—or I should
say they found me. Lightbulb moment! I obeyed the “yield” sign years ago, and God
led me down His path in His time and in His way. The road had speed bumps, sharp
turns, dizzying curves, and dead ends, but I eventually reached my destination.
Now comes another “yield” sign as I surrender and concede to His plans for what
Christian college dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring. He stumbles on a desperate journey to understand God's motives for her tragic death. Crossing his perilous path is Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean's office. Even as she deals with financial hardships, she recognizes Drew's unresolved grief from her own loss. Putting up a roadblock is Chris Whitney, the handsome but egotistical student senate president. He carries the secret burden of a dysfunctional family and a below-the-surface temper. The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart, substance and domestic abuse, a violent assault, and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration.Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares, and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?
Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who
loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. She has spent
her entire 30-year career in writing, including newspaper journalism, Christian
higher education and nonprofit public relations, and local government public
information. Much of her writing has been the “people stories” of trial,
tragedy, and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel, “Embracing Hope.”
Janell is a freelance writer/editor, and a member of American Christian Fiction
Writers (ACFW). She and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota. She has
two stepsons, a step-daughter-in-law and three step-granddaughters.
Worship leader Kari Jobe’s fourth album is an
inspirational collection of songs which are perfect for personal reflection.
The album is peaceful overall, creating a spirit of worship which will bring
the listener closer to God.
The deluxe edition contains fourteen songs, many with
reminders of finding hope amid tragedy. Her songs demonstrate how God can turn
any situation around, making it a thing of beauty. Two of the songs feature vocals
by her husband, Cody Carnes.
The album contains some congregational anthems, as is
typical of many of Jobe’s career-defining songs, such as “Fall Afresh,” “Heal
our Land,” and “Closer to Your Heart.” Two songs on the album are cover songs:
“Miracles” by Jesus Culture and “Here as in Heaven” by Elevation Church.
Some of my favorite lyrics include:
I saw the garden, hope had come to me” (“The Garden”)
would you hear our cry. Lord, will you heal our land. That every eye will see,
that every heart will know, the One who took our sin, the One who died and
rose” (“Heal our Land”)
the Lord is, He is able, He is faithful. Higher than the mountains that I face.
Every season I will press on, for God alone is on the throne”
(“On the Throne”)
I received a complimentary copy of this album. I was not required to leave a
In celebration of her latest release, Vannetta has graciously offered to give away a copy of the book (US ONLY). To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends February 10, 2016.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!
A Word from Vannetta...
Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’m thrilled to talk to you today about my newest release, Raging Storm. This is the 2nd book in my Remnant series. It’s a story about a world where most technology has been destroyed by a massive solar flare and how a small group of friends from Abney, Texas learn to survive. I’d like to share with you a few quotes from the story. “The lights will come on again, folks. I might not live to see it. Some of you will. When they do, you’ll be surprised at how tough you have become. How you don’t need, or even want, that luxury. How you’ve learned to depend on the sweat of your own labor.” This is one of my favorites, spoken by an older gentleman, and he’s talking to a group of farming neighbors who have gathered together to discuss their situation. I enjoyed this scene immensely. It highlights the wisdom and faith of our oldest generation. These are people that we all could learn a lot from, but we’re usually too busy to stop and listen. Our friends and family who are in the 70s, 80s, and 90s have been through difficult times before. Their wisdom comes from hindsight and from endurance. They have a different perspective because they’ve had to depend on their friends and family and faith. I think the older generation is a blessing from God to each of us, and I hope that we can appreciate that without having to go through what the characters in Raging Storm endure. Max glanced out over the university buildings, but he didn’t let go of Shelby. He turned her in his arms, so that she was looking out at Austin, but he kept his arms wrapped around her, as if he could protect her from what lay ahead. “When I decided to go to law school, I thought I could change the world.” He rested his chin on top of her head, breathed in the scent of her. “My dad admired my enthusiasm, but he warned me that the world doesn’t change that way—all at once.” “Maybe it did, on the night of the flare.” “Not our doing, though.” “God’s?” “Maybe. Or maybe it’s just the way of the physical world. Maybe we forgot that we’re susceptible to the laws of nature.” “So no changing the world.” “Not all at once.” “But we can make a difference?” She pulled his arms more tightly around her until it felt as if they were one person, one force to be reckoned with. “One person at a time. That’s what my dad told me. The world is changed one person at a time.” This is definitely one of the themes of the book, that the world is changed one person at a time. It’s a truth that I believe we see in the gospels. How is the love of Christ shared? One person at a time. It’s a truth we see in our daily lives. How to we care for others? One person at a time. And it remains a truth even when the world is in upheaval. It’s not in our power to change everything, but we can reach out to one another. We can make a difference in one person’s life. She saved Max for last. When she moved to slap his hand, he pulled her into his arms and whispered in her ear. “Carter’s going to be fine, and he’s lucky to have you for his mother.” She touched his cheek once and started to answer. Changing her mind, she kissed him on the other cheek and whispered “thank you” before pulling away. Something inside of Max blossomed, something he hadn’t felt in a long time. Certainly not since the flare, and maybe even before that. Maybe it was something he’d smothered well before the sun changed their world. For the first time in many years, Max experienced hope. That they would get the supplies of medication back to the people who needed them and that Carter would be fine. He caught a glimpse of a future with Shelby, one that was more than friendship. He allowed himself to dream about the next day and the next one after that with Shelby in his arms, by his side, completing his life. And in that moment the thought crossed his mind that just possibly the life they were building could be better than the one they’d left behind. And there is another theme of the book, that sometimes the things we fear, the things we would never wish for, give us joy that we couldn’t imagine. No one in this story would have wished for a solar flare, to lose all modern conveniences, to be thrown back into the lifestyle of their grandparents. But once these things happen, they find joy. They find hope in the future that God has planned. “The life they were building could be better than the one they’d left behind.” I think this is a truth for each of us, because God’s grace is always sufficient.
I rated this story 4/5 stars for RT Bookreviews Magazine.
Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace, including romantic suspense and Amish romance novels. She is the author of seventeen novels, including the Pebble Creek Amish series, The Shipshewana Amish Mystery series and Anna’s Healing, a 2016 Christy Award finalist. Vannetta is a Carol award winner and also received more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas hill country. For more information, visit her at www.VannettaChapman.com.